Money Saving Updated:
There's nothing quite like Christmas to bring everyone together, but it can't be denied that it can put a huge amount of pressure on your wallet. Wouldn't it be good if you could have the magical day you're dreaming of, while saving some cash at the same time? We happen to agree, which is why we've put together a few top tips to help you save money this festive season.
Setting a budget – and sticking to it – is the key to proper financial management at all times of year, but it becomes even more important during the Christmas period. It can be all-too easy to overspend on the food shop, while the decorations, table settings, Christmas presents and "just one more thing" temptations can mean the costs quickly spiral out of control.
That's why you need to be strict when it comes to your festive spending. Work out how much you've got in your Christmas savings pot and divide it up accordingly – set aside an amount to spend per gift, carefully plan the food shop so you're not filling up the trolley unnecessarily, and all other indulgences (Christmas parties, extra decorations, etc.) should be carefully weighed up and budgeted for accordingly.
Panic buying is perhaps the worst thing you can do, as it'll be incredibly easy to overspend that way. It could mean you're not weighing up the options carefully enough, be it over the presents or the Christmas turkey, and if you're not scouting around for deals or comparing prices, you could spend far more than you need to. That's why you should stay calm, write a list and try to find a few prices before you hit the shops – that way, you can be sure your budget is being stuck to.
Chances are, your wallet is full to bursting with the various loyalty cards of your favourite retailers, and if you've managed to rack up a few points over the year, it's time to make the most of the rewards. Many of these loyalty schemes will exchange points for money off your shopping, and that can be a great way to keep costs to a minimum and shave pounds off your overall bill. It's a growing tactic, too, with research from Halifax finding that 65% of respondents will redeem rewards or points earned during the year, so it could be time to be one of them.
Or, why not look at it from another angle? Putting your festive spending on a reward or cashback credit card could be ideal, giving you money back or extra rewards simply for spending as you normally would – and considering how much you'll probably spend over the next few weeks, those rewards could quickly add up.
Do you normally go for luxury brands when doing your shopping? If so, it could be an idea to downgrade. Even going one brand lower than normal could make a huge amount of difference, and you may want to try swapping your usual supermarket. So-called budget retailers are growing in popularity and they're often rated for the quality of their food, so why not give them a go?
Hopefully you'll already be trained in the art of bargain-spotting, but at this time of year it's even more important to brush up on your skills. Be on the lookout for special offers in retailers, be it for the gifts or the food, and if you're really savvy you'll want to scout out the latest vouchers and discount codes before you hit the shops.
Spreading the cost can be a great way to help keep things under control, and there'll be no last-minute panic if your savings don't quite cover the bill. Putting your festive spend on a credit card that charges 0% interest on purchases could be ideal – as long as you have a clear plan of how you'll pay off the balance before the introductory period ends, you'll have cleared the full amount without interest adding to the debt. Alternatively, if you've already spent on a different credit card, consider transferring the balance to a 0% balance transfer card in the New Year. Again, you'll have plenty of time to pay the full amount off, and as long as you don't overspend, you won't be feeling the pinch when it's time to start making repayments.
If you're really struggling to afford gifts for everyone on your list, it could be time to get creative. Homemade gifts and cards will not only be cost-effective, but they can be far more heartfelt and personal than a gift set you panic bought at the last minute, so it could be time to get your creative juices flowing by looking for card designs, recipes for sweet treats or guides to making handmade gifts.
The high street may be the traditional place to do your Christmas shopping, but now the emphasis is shifting towards the online sphere. And with good reason – not only will sitting at your computer screen be far less stressful than doing battle with the Christmas shopping crowds, but you could easily save a fortune. You'll have the perfect opportunity to compare a few prices and do some research before you make your final present-buying decisions, and a lot of online retailers offer fantastic discounts, too.
We know that this year's festivities have barely started, but there's nothing to stop you from indulging in a bit of forward planning. Start saving as soon as you can – if you start now, a regular savings account could be ideal, giving you the incentive to stash away a bit each month that can be withdrawn in time for next year's Christmas shopping. A one-year bond could be a great alternative, or if you want flexibility, an instant access account – or even a high interest current account – could be ideal.
Another great way to plan ahead is to stock up on sale bargains for next year. The Boxing Day and January sales will provide the perfect opportunity to snap up a few bargains, be it cut-price gifts, crackers or decorations, and if you keep them stashed away for next year, you'll have already ticked a few things off your list.
So, there you have it – a few simple ways to save money this Christmas, without needing to sacrifice the fun or magic of the season. Knowing you'll save a bit of cash can be a great way to keep stress levels to a minimum, so now all you've got to do is get out there and enjoy this year's festive action!
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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